PittsburghMom

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PittsburghMom is our original, featured blog by Heather Starr Fiedler.  Heather created PittsburghMom in March 2008 and began this journey.  Heather is the mom to two young boys, Matthew (9) and Benjamin (7), a college professor and General Manager of PittsburghMom. She's busy, but not too busy to blog about her sometimes serious, sometimes painful and often humorous thoughts on life and share her favorite Pittsburgh spots for families.

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Pittsburgh Family Fun - NEW North Hills Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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A couple of years ago, I wrote a review of Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark in Greensburg. You can read it here.  Now Fun Slides is opening a Pittsburgh location (opening day is May 31) and I had the pleasure of getting a sneak peak tonight.

It's located in the Pines Plaza on Perry Highway in the North Hills. In the plaza, drive around to the back, behind the Shop-n-Save and you'll see it.
PITTSBURGH (North Hills)
412-364-9400
Pines Plaza Shopping Center, 
1130 Perry Highway, Pittsburgh PA 15237
(Behind Shop N Save)

 Fun Slides were created in 2002 by Don (Smokey) Edwards, one of the inventors of EZ Moves® Furniture Slides. The best way to describe “Fun Sliding” is like sliding with your socks on wood floors…but you can do it on carpet. Basically, they are smooth plastic ‘skates’ that are strapped under athletic shoes. The ‘gripper grooves’ on the bottom provide traction. Carpet Skating is a safer alternative to skating on ice or concrete yet very cool for kids (and adults!).

Fun Slides has just opened a  new location in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, which is great news for those of us that love to slide, but don't love to drive (all the way to Greensburg).  

The new location is just like the old one. Except about FIVE times bigger. Seriously, it's massive.  

For those of you that are new to Fun Slides, here's the general idea:

Basically it's like skateboarding without the skateboard.  Kids (and adults, if you wish) just strap on little bottoms to their shoes (attached with velcro, so make sure you wear sneakers, not flip flops) and take to the park.  There are at least a dozen or so ramps they can choose from, from the smallest "starter" rams to large double drop ramps.  They can progress upwards with their comfort level.  

For those of you that are not new to Fun Slides and are just wondering what is different with the new location, here are some of the changes:

  • There no more "sessions". They instead will be open to the general public for a constant time each day and then will sell "amounts of slide time" to visitors (2, 3 or 4 hours)
  • Prices are a bit higher.  A 2-hour slide will cost $12.  3 hours will cost $18 and 4 hours will cost $20.
  • Spectator passes. If parents want to stay in the lounge area or the first few feet of the floor space, that's fine. But if you want to walk around the floor, you will have to purchase a Spectator Pas for $2.50
  • Party Rooms - Unlike the open party rooms in Greensburg, the Pittsburgh location will have honest to goodness separate party rooms. They are starting with two and will have six by summers end
  • Dodgeball - Not technically new, as they do have this in Greensburg now, but it's much more prominent in Pittsburgh.  To play dodegball you can purchase a wristband as an add-on to sliding. This will cost $3 (for 3 games)
  • NO CAFE - The Greensburg location now has a hot foods cafe (that opened rather recently) but the Pittsburgh location does not yet (but will by end of summer).  In the meantime, pizza for birthday parties is being ordered from a local pizza shop.  There are snacks and drinks available for purchase and a nice size lounge with tables to take a break and have a snack.
  • Mini-golf and laser tag - *COMING SOON* - By the end of the summer they plan to install a cafe, and a laser tag and mini golf area

Birthday parties start at $199 for 10 children and can be booked starting now (in fact, they are already booked for parties on their opening day May 31.   Party add-ons include glow in the dark party room packages and dogeball options.

 Hours:

They offer public skating sessions just about every day of the week. Public sessions last an from 2-5 hours depending on the day and you're welcome to stay that entire time if you wish.  
Public skating typically follows this schedule

Sunday - 1:30-6:30
Monday - Closed
Tuesday & Wednesday - 10-4
Thursday , Friday & Saturday- 12:30-8:30

Cost

  • $12-20 for skating (2-4 hours)
  • $2.50 for carpet slides rental (or you can buy them if you come often)
  • $2 for helmet rental (required for ages 7 and under or you can bring your own helmet)
  • $2.50 for parent "Spectator Pass" if you want to go out on the floor to watch
  • $3.00 for 3 games of dodgeball
  • Birthday Party packages $199 up to 10 kids.  $15 for each additional child

  Photos:

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On death and dying

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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We were on a family vacation last week, a cruise no less, when we got the call.
It's the call everyone dreads.

There were some troopers at our house from a town two hours away. The town where my husband's brother lives (alone). We knew it could not be good.

We called the troopers back and our worst fears were confirmed. He had passed away in his sleep. He was only 47.

That phone call began a whirlwind of emotions, calls, decisions and plans.  I feel like the last week has flown by in a blur.  We decided (because we were away and my husband's other brother lives in Texas) to have the funeral this week.  So since we've been back our days have been filled with family, funeral homes, cemetery visits, preparations and dozens of texts and phone calls.

While my husband and I are busy with the details and trying to keep the emotions at arms length for sheer survival.  My kids, on the other hand, are seeing this all happen and just seem to be internalizing it.

Last night they finally broke.

Both of them crawled into bed with me and squeezed me tight. Matthew (8) said "I can't go to sleep. I just keep thinking about all the bad things that can happen. I'm afraid one of our family is going to die too".  

Ben (7) just silently squeezed me tighter in agreement.

My heart broke in a million pieces. Because, you know what?  I'm scared too. 
How do I continue to promise my kids that they'll live a long time and that people don't just suddenly die. Because now they've seen that they do. People do just suddenly die sometimes. For no good reason and with no warning.

I can't look them in the eye and promise them that it will always be ok. Because I don't know that.

I'm the one that's been up multiple times every night the past week gently shaking every member of my family to make sure they're still breathing.

They're scared. And so am I.

So what do I tell them to comfort them? How do I make them feel safe?

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The thrill of the scare

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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Do you like scary movies?  Haunted houses?

I sure don't.

But I've got a little one that is shaping up to be a fan of being scared. I should have known. He's always gravitated more toward the dark and macabre than the cute and cuddly. He picks the scull and zombie shirts when shopping. He wanted to be the Grim Reaper for Halloween.  And now he's started to ask for scary movies and haunted houses.

He's kind of funny about it right now though.  He's still only seven. So he still gets scared. He wants to push the envelope and be scared but then gets "freaked out" when he does.

Last week he watched a bit of a movie with a friend (I don't think it was even a scary movie) and something spooked him.  He COULD NOT SLEEP that night. He just kept talking and talking. He said that he was trying to think of happy thoughts ("I tried to think of you mama, but every time I did my brain just kept getting freaked out"). He said that when he's freaked out he needs to talk constantly in order not to think about it. It makes for an interesting, chatty night.

We just went to Niagara Falls and both boys were allowed to pick one thing do do. He, of course, was begging to do the "scariest haunted attraction" in town. We talked him out of it and into something much more fun. I don't think he would have enjoyed it, and I know I personally was terrified ;)

So what do I do with a kid that wants to be scared but is too little to really enjoy it once he indulges in it?

I think we've got some time before we really have to tackle the issue. Halloween will be the real test, with haunted houses and scary costumes.  In the meantime we keep trying to make judgement calls when he asks for something on the dark side.

 

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I did it for me, I did it for them

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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About five years ago I decided I needed to get in shape. I can't remember exactly why, but I decided to take up running. My husband and I started the Couch to 5k program.  We had a treadmill at our home and it seemed like something manageable.  For the next 8 weeks we diligently followed the program, increasing our distances each week. I remember the first time I ran a mile. I thought I was going to die, yet I'd never felt more alive.

To keep us motivated we signed up for a 5k (the Great Race) at the completion of the program.  That day came and I was nervous, excited and proud. I ran (slowly) the whole time and crossed that finish line feeling like a new person. I remember it took me 36 minutes and 36 seconds.  Slow, but steady. I was hooked.

Since then I've continued to run in increasing distances, each time looking for that new challenge (to break a 30 minute 5k, to run a 10k, to try a triathlon, etc).  The one thing I never thought I'd do (or wanted to do) was a full marathon. It was just TOO much.

But this fall, just by sheer coincidence, I ran three half marathons in five weeks. (Still very slow, I've never really gotten faster) :)  I felt good during all of them and it was then that I realized maybe I did need that new challenge.

Signing up for the full was just like making the decision to jump into a cold pool. I just closed my eyes, plugged my nose and jumped.  I signed up (and posted to Facebook for accountability) and realized there was no turning back.

Fast forward to this winter. What a horrible time to train. I hate running outside in the snow, so I was relegated to the treadmill. I've long since given up really running on the treadmill. I get too bored. So I run/walk in increments. After countless episodes of Scandal, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and Say Yes to the Dress, I got tired of the damn treadmill.

When the weather broke I started to do my long weekend runs outside. But remember, I'm slow. It took me nearly all day to do these long runs. And then I would be tired the rest of that day and sore for two days after. 

This training was killing me. I began to hate it. I hated the time it was taking me away from my kids. I hated the guilt that I felt. Guilt because I wasn't running/training hard enough and guilt that I was spending so much time away from my kids.I felt so selfish for doing this thing for me that was taking me away from them so much. Running became a chore rather than something I enjoyed. I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Then marathon day came. I'm not sure I've ever been so nervous.  People tried to calm be by arguing that I gave birth to two kids so I could do anything.  I joked that I had drugs in the delivery room. There were no drugs available on the marathon course :)

The race ended up being fantastic. I ran slow (see a trend here?) and steady. I cheered with the crowds, line danced with the ladies in Homewood, drank a few sips of beer at the Church Brew Works "water stop" and loved every minute of the journey.  My family and friends came to watch me. My kids made giant signs and rang cowbells. After years of cheering for them at every sporting event, they got to turn the tables and cheer for me. They loved it   Crossing that finish line was such an amazing experience.

It was then that I realized that it was ok that I did this for me. That by doing it for me, I was also doing it for them. They got to see me do something really freaking hard. Something I openly worried about and wasn't sure I could do, but did it anyway. Something that very few people do. Something that takes hard work and discipline.  Something I didn't always enjoy, but refused to quit, because I had made a commitment.

My kids called me an inspiration to them. And now they say they want to grow up and run a marathon some day.  

So while I did feel a lot of guilt during the process, I realize now that with that guilt came some really wonderful lessons. And while the guilt was temporary, those lessons will last a lifetime. 

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My Magic May

Written by Heather Starr Fiedler. Posted in PittsburghMom

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May is probably my favorite month of the year.

 It's that magic time of year that I finish my semester and then have two or three solid weeks before the kids' finish school.  Even with a vacation and several half-days of school thrown in there this year I'm getting a two-week stretch of "Heather time".

And I cherish those two weeks. It typically goes something like this:

Day 1 - Sit on the couch for three hours watching bad TV from the DVR and drinking coffee.  After three hours I start to feel guilty and go organize a closet before returning to my perch on the couch.

Days 2-14 - Filled with a combination of doctors appointments, dentist appointments, hair appointments.  I try to clean one big thing (playroom, basement, garage) each day, but that lasts about four days and then I burn out.  I get the occasional massage, do some gardening and continue to spend lazy mornings drinking coffee and watching bad TV.  

I'm thrilled when 3:30 comes and the the kids get off the bus.  This week is especially nice because the kids have half days so I've got some time to myself in the morning and then get to spend the afternoon with them (today it was a bike ride to visit the Science Center...tomorrow's plan is haircuts -sorry kids)

I feel only slightly guilt for enjoying this time so much. Only slightly. I've got all summer to be home with the kids. And I'll enjoy that time, too. But there's something extra special about my "Magic May" that I look forward to year after year. 

What would you do with two weeks with no work or kids all day long?

 

 

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